Unless you were raised by a wonderfully efficient family that had a simple and effective system for getting kids to do chores, you’re probably drowning in housework and resentment for having to be the one to DO. IT. ALL.Â
And neither of those are good for anyone.
Having my kids help with the housework is an area that I personally struggle in because I was raised in a home where my dad was away at sea (in the Navy) most of my childhood and my mom was a stay-at-home mom. She took the stance that since she didn’t work outside the home, her job was to do all the housework herself as the homemaker.
Certainly not a bad way of looking at things at face value.
To add to it, she was a perfectionist and liked things done a “certain way” as she put it. Her favorite saying was, “if you want something done right, do it yourself.”Â
As you can rightly gather, I didn’t do much housework growing up. Now before you start getting all jealous because you had to spend all your Saturday morning cleaning the house to your mom’s favorite cleaning album (my husband’s story) this actually did more harm than good.
WHY ALL KIDS NEED CHORES
As noble as you think you’re being by taking on the sole task of homemaking (even if you are a full-time stay-at-home mom), you’re actually raising kids that can’t take care of themselves or anyone else for that matter.
Didn’t see that coming, huh?
It’s true. Kids people learn by doing. We ALL need practice. Think about when you started a new job and you watched your trainer do a task that you’d be doing on your own soon.
Think about the anxiety you felt watching them and wanting to be able to practice and role play before you had to “go live” in real life. What if you never got a chance to practice before you got released into the real world?
Raising kids is the same way. It doesn’t matter how many times we tell them things they should be doing. They’ll never “get it” until they get to do it A LOT.
When I got married and moved out, I had no idea how things got done in my house as a kid. The magic cleaning function didn’t seem to work in my new house. And I’m not proud to say that we lived in a disorganized, messy, and sometimes funky environment a lot of the time.
And then we started having kids and over the years, I started doing the same things my mom did. Yes, I turned into my mom. Yikes!
As my kids got older, they literally had NO sense of personal responsibility as it related to our home. I actually witnessed my middle daughter finish off a snack bag of crackers and simply toss her bag on the floor while she continued to watch her show.
Yes, she did that.
And aside from losing my mind in that moment, I also understood why there were so many little pieces of trash on my floor when I’d do my nightly clean up. It was a mystery before that day.
My desire to “serve” my family by keeping a clean and organized home to the best of my ability had totally backfired.
Can you relate?
I don’t want to raise entitled, messy, and lazy kids. I know you don’t either.
That’s where getting the kids involved is actually good for them and good for you because you get some much-needed help!
In case you need more convincing, here’s a Harvard study that proves giving your kids chores will make them happier and set them up for greater success in life. So, let’s start passing out those chores!
STARTING THE CHORE PROCESS
My process is designed to be super simple and reduce overwhelm for both you and your children. So whether your kids are doing chores already or none at all this process will work for both so stay with me!
If you try to start too big with multiple tasks and complicated chore charts to post and manage, you’ll likely get a lot more pushback and you’ll find yourself nagging more than anyone would like. Which usually results in you giving up and going back to doing it all yourself.
Resist that urge right now!
Remember this is good for you but even better for them.
Now, start by making a list of all the household duties. Think larger task categories like dishes, floors, bathrooms, and laundry.
Not smaller tasks like wiping counters or picking up toys unless all your children are really little. In that case, keep all the tasks short, sweet, and simple. We are just trying to develop healthy and productive habits with the little ones.
I like to give my older kids (ages 6 and up) a larger domain or function to “be in charge of.” This gives them a sense of ownership for that area and helps to keep them from getting in each other’s way while cleaning. Thus, eliminating some sibling drama.
So to use bathrooms as an example, one child would be responsible for the entire bathroom. This would consist of wiping counters and mirrors, spraying and wiping the shower or bathtub, and toilets. That’s a lot right there and it’ll keep them plenty busy. Especially, if you have more than one bathroom.
And remember, if you have all younger children, take bigger jobs and break them down into much smaller and easier tasks. And you’ll still do the more adult tasks.
GIVING OUT THE CHORE ASSIGNMENTS
Once you’ve listed all your tasks, assign one of your children to do ONE of those tasks every day for a whole month.
Let me explore that a little further.
Let’s say you assigned your 10-year-old son over the floors. He doesn’t necessarily have to vacuum the floors every day, unless that’s how often you vacuum. He just needs to look at his job like he’s the ambassador of the floors in your house. That means making sure the floors are vacuumed but also clean of shoes, toys, and other items that make their way to the floors every day.
I hope that makes sense.
Also, I want to bring emphasis on why doing one thing only is so important versus having a larger list of several chores. Suddenly, adding a kid that’s never really done chores before into a multi-position cleaning team can be really overwhelming. Which usually leads to your need to nag them to do their chores every day. And that’s just frustrating for everyone.Â
I love giving each child their ONE thing for a whole month and then switching to a new task like laundry, for example.
Here’s a really simple chore chart to have the kids check off each day:
Now I want to quickly talk about ages here a bit. Most household chores can be simplified for your younger children and become gradually more independent as your children get older. This is about more than getting the housework done. You are training your children for real life and getting much-needed practice for their adulthood.
Let’s use the laundry example here. If I had an older child, I’d teach them how to gather, sort, wash, and fold all the household laundry.
If you have a younger child, I’d show them how to separate the clothes, and use the washer and dryer with supervision, and also teach them the proper way to fold. You may need to do some re-folding in secret for the little ones but letting them “help” is still really important to learn new skills.
Here are a couple examples of chores for one task separated by age group:
Older Child: Washes, dries, and folds the laundry.
Younger: Helps put clothes in the washer, moves clothes into the dryer, and helps fold clothes.
Younger Child: Clears and wipes counter tops, empties the trash, sweeps the floor.
Older Child: All of the above and scrubs toilets and cleans tubs/shower.
Remember, these are just examples. You may decide to tweak your own chore process. The actual tasks are completely up to you!
GETTING EVERYONE ON BOARD
You may be wondering where’s the tracking system to get everyone straight. Well, I believe in keeping things stupid simple. And keeping everyone on track with their one thing is easy and doesn’t require complicated chore charts to post and manage.
Everyone can remember ONE thing, right?
At the start of each month, simply rotate each child to another new task.
And as your child gets older, make their tasks more involved and independent.
Just remember that if this is a new thing for your family, apply LOTS and LOTS of patience and grace. And as hard as this might be, work really hard on giving positive affirmations and encouragement. And when things aren’t happening and you feel the temptation to nag… try your hardest not to. Make simple reminders instead.
What works best for my family is we have a designated time when everyone does their chore area. That way no one feels like their missing out on anything fun and we’re all feeding off of each other’s cleaning energy. Lol
A WORD ON PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
I wanted to take one more minute to talk about how to make house cleaning go much faster for everyone. If EVERYONE in the house intentionally put their own mess and belongings away in their correct place THE FIRST TIME it would tremendously cut down on the need for cleaning.
Let’s use the bathroom as an example. If you tell your kids to put their toothbrushes and toothpaste away every time after using them, your child that’s assigned to the bathrooms won’t need to take the unnecessary time to clear the counters every single day. They simply can wipes the counters very quickly!
In the case of laundry, if everyone in the house takes their own clothes to your laundry area and does the work of separating their clothes into colors all the laundry person needs to do is wash, dry, and fold. And each kid, if old enough (and my 3-year-old does) can put away their own folded laundry.
When everyone pitches in this way, the actual cleaning assignments are much more manageable. And the final benefit is, by giving your kids a domain or main task area, you instantly create a self-cleaning machine.
It’s funny to see when they just cleaned an area and their sister or brother leaves stuff in their freshly cleaned area. Have you ever heard a kid nag? Lol
They never cared that much when I cleaned. Oh well.
I really hope you’re inspired to get those kids on board, or maybe you’re already churning with ideas to change the way you do your family’s chores. I’d love to hear your amazing ideas or the process you’re already using that works. Share them in the comments below!